Saturday, May 20, 2017

The handmaid's tale

So, Margaret Atwood's book: The Handmaid's Tale is an amazing read.

I got the book and started reading when I opted for watching the series alongside to get a different take and hopefully to have the two medias blend together.

And this is exactly what happened. The series give an extra dimension visually and adds backstory through the characters memories which just enhances the written story, for me anyway.

And the book is a mesmerizing read. One word takes the next effortlessly as the diary of the handmaid Offred unfolds even deeper nuances into a world of dystopian disasters where religious control is the mainstay of the day.
A christian group "Sons of Jacob" stages an attack on congress (this is with the US as background) killing the president and continuing from here first to suspend the United States Constitution, of course with the pretext to restore order.

And then to take away human rights. In particular womens rights who are now the property of men, are forbidden to read and write and have jobs and income. And the human rights are also taken away from anyone else who does not fit into the Old Testament way of thinking, such as doctors who performed abortions, people who oppose this new totalitarian theocracy and people of different sexual orientation.

The world has experienced a devastating drop in fertility and the few women who are able to bear children become handmaids in households with the sole purpose of using their bodies to produce the next generation.
They are mere slaves in a system where noone can be trusted, everyone is a potential spy and they are kept in their place through physical and mental abuse. Those who do not conform undergo bodily mutilation if the are fertile and exile to the colonies or death if they are not. There is no way out of Gilead, as this part of the old US is now known.

This is just a first impression of course as I haven't yet finished reading the book.

The thing that strikes me though is that however horrifying a future picture this might be, this is not just a fictional dystopian scenario. Nor is it just a depiction of a society aeons ago. This is something that has happened and is actually happening in the world today.

And this is what makes Margaret Atwoods book, written in 1985, so eerily to the point. The idea depicted in the book of the religious and political supression of women and people who oppose the system is sadly a reality for thousands, indeed millions of women (and men) in our world today.

And the mere fact that this is still tolerated silently is just evidence that we as a worldly society still have so far to go.

We are not out of the medieval era yet, not by a long shot.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Language and the concept of time

Language has always been a mystery to me. Well, not language as such, but how we interact through language. Our intentions and sentiments are more often than not lost as we translate them into language and unintentionally we often end up explaining ourselves endlessly in order to convey what we meant using time and experience as our tools of expressing a more accurate account of what we said.
So, how do we communicate clearly with each other through language without being misunderstood/misinterpreted when coming from completely different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences? And how do we get a clearer understanding of the essence of what we are being communicated and/or are communicating ourselves?

The trick is to keep time out of the equation.
Completely.
There is no way around this essential detail.
It is not a question of when or where, or even of how or why, but of connection.

What is the connection between what is expressed in words, sounds or signs and the unique experience of the one expressing them? Every sentence, every word, every pause has a significance, a meaning and an infinite source of interpretation.

Now infinite may be slightly exaggerated; but taken into account that there are over 7 billion of us humans, going on 9, the math of the numerous connections come very close to a staggering number of possible interpretations.
Especially when one takes into consideration that each individual is exactly that, individual, having years of learning and interpretation of their particular worldview and adding to that their own unique dictionary of the language. Even though two people live right next to each other they will invariably have quite different accounts of shared experiences and sometimes even completely opposite views of the circumstances they both witnessed.

It is therefore quite a puzzle, bordering on enigmatic, establishing a common communication-mode and even more so an understanding between individuals when solely relying on language as we know it.

The words are what they are, descriptive based on observation and inherited and learned observation - this is what it is. It is when the concept of time enters into the mix that most of the diverse misunderstandings arises.

Now there are a few languages which do not factor in the concept of time (past, present, future etc.) but rely on expressions of mood as to whether something has happened, is happening or will be happening. And through completely removing time from language the raw essence of the communication is left, thereby expressing the action, intent and content with much more clarity and precision.

One of these languages belong to the Pirahã tribe in Brazil and for them language is expressing their understanding of existence which is all about the present, the now. This is all there is. Their cultural formular, if you will is: Live here live now. So everything for them is happening in the present relieving the language of the burden of time related complications.
An example is:  "When I have finished eating, I would like to speak with you," the Pirahãs say, "I finish eating, I speak with you." (Source)

Now just imagine if our language had the same quality. None of those debatable interpretations of past, present or future-actions, just the essence: this is what is now - and how does that sit with you?

I could certainly imagine a lot of international (political, philosophical, religious etc.) debates and discussions being reduced significantly, not only in the endless hours spent communicating and interpreting the possible meanings, but also in the misunderstandings deriving from these seemingly never ending talks.

Just imagine if only the essence of the communication was present, and the concept of time was left out completely, how much easier and accessible intercultural understand would be.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Tiny House


I have been fascinating by tiny houses for a few years now. It kind of reminds me of summerhouses, small, cosy and cute :-) and I have been watching countless videos on youtube showing tiny houses around the world for a few years now.

Allways imagining building one myself or having one built to my wishes and wants, creating floorplans and interiors and materials to suit my ideas of sustainable living.

You know, solarpanels, a small woodburning fireplace, a minimal kitchen, composting toilet, storagespace but not too much (I like the idea of using the width of the tiny house instead) and so on....

And then yesterday I had the opportunity to actually visit one where I live.

Amazing, beautifull and very revealing of the reality of living in such a small, albeit wellordered, space.

I did enjoy the experience of it and I did realize one very important fact - the idea is far more attractive in theory than in real life.

Oh, I could easily spend a holiday in one; but I do think that I would eventually tire of the limited space and in the long run maybe find the whole thing too claustrophobic for my taste.

I like space around me.

I like the fact that I can dance around without falling over furniture, I like a lot of light in my livingquarters and I like the fact that I can close the door to the bedroom, the kitchen etc. and still have more than enough room to have people over for dinner or whatever.

And I love that I have two walls dedicated to books and things.

So, I guess I am not a candidate for a tiny house just yet.

But it was, and still is, a charming idea :-)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Pedestrian rant....

So, I don't have a drivers license, which makes it logical that I don't have a car either of course.

I walk everywhere, all the time and I don't mind the rain, snow or even a storm. Walking is my thing if you like. Which in this society makes me a pedestrian. Ha, yes I am aware of the doublemeaning..... In this context however I am referring to us bipeds who frequent the pavements of this world.

We do however from time to time claim the right to cross over streets to a pavement on the opposite side. And while this sometimes does occur outside the reserved spaces for pedestrians, (you know where no lights are telling you when you are allowed to cross over and you do it when its safe, because being a pedestrian doesn't automatically take away your sanity and ability to judge a situation), a lot of crossing over happens at designated pedestrian crossings.

Lights going from red to yellow to green. You know what I mean.

Now here is a thing that annoys me no end.

Usually, the person walking, has to push a button to activate the trafficlights that controls the pedestrian crossing area. Fine, whatever!

But, the tricky thing is to get there in time. There is a short window of opportunity in which the pedestrian has a chance to notify the trafficlights that, yes here is a person who wants the possibility to cross the streets in an orderly fashion, (something society apparently values highly).
The idea is simple and yet if you miss this short window, the trafficlights overrule any pressing of buttons from the pedestrian and demonstratively refuses to give a green light, making the pedestrian wait another round before releasing the 'it's allright to go' green light.

It is ludicrous. Cars rule, no exception. Even when it is pouring down, the umbrella has given way a long time ago and you are as wet as you could ever get and cars are whizzing by cascading puddle-water on your bag, your shoes and whatever else seems within reach (usually everything) - there are no exceptions to this rigid trafficlight dictatorship.

I have a sneaking suspicion that these trafficlights are designed by people who hate pedestrians with every fiber of their being and who has the evil wish to transform all kinds of transport into a cars only world, so that they once and for all can eradicate the menacing pedestrians alltogether.

Why on earth don't they just let the trafficlights for pedestrians syncronize with the trafficlights for the cars going in the same direction? Would solve a lot of problems I tell you. When its green for cars then let it be green for us walking folks too.

How difficult can this concept be?

I have turned into quite the rebel, well I always was one anyway, I ignore the trafficlights completely. If cars can drive in the direction I am venturing, then certainly I can walk as well.

I have even converted a few very polite people in my time too. You know the type, they let out a resigned sigh when they missed the opportunity to push the button for walking and then they stand there waiting in constrained misery untill the light gives them permission to venture forth. I don't know, anyway, I walk briskly by saluting them cheerily saying: I think it's ok to cross now too. And they usually follow my lead albeit looking around to see if anyone has seen them misbehaving.

Society's a bitch when it it comes to conditioning their inhabitants.

Another thing I find so discriminating about pedestrian crossings is the time one is allowed to use to cross the road. This is mindbafflingly short (if there is such a word). So short in fact that even though I walk quite fast the light turns red about ten steps before I reach the other side. Now I continue, as you will allready have guessed, why should I be stranded somewhere in the middle of the road waiting yet another round before its my turn again?

No f...ing way. Just saying......

Besides it totally screws up the chances of reaching the button controlling the pedestrian trafficsignal if one is needing to catch that one too, Soooooo.....

We should get our right to cross roads freely back. Get cars out and away from cities, towns and other areas where people live. Let the carowners walk for a change. It could actually do them some good, the exercise and the fresh air.

And just think of the amazing airquality we would gain with no exhaust from gasoline- and dieseldriven vehicles.

I vote for extensive no-car-zones now....... It's about time!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Words, words, words....

So, I have been reading books all my life. Well, ever since I can remember. My dad was head of the local library and through this priviledge I spent quite a lot of my childhood in the company of the written word. Everyone in my family read and to me it seemed like I was surrounded by books.

I still read as much as I can get away with.

Growing up in the fifties and sixties reading was probably a more normal way to spend ones freetime, whereas today there are many supplementary choices like ebooks, audiobooks, movies, televisionseries etc. and access to these can be had on our smartphones, computers, tablets and TV.

Now I am not putting any of these options down.

Each of them has pros and cons and as society developes, as well as technology, we move on embracing even more sophisticated ways of storytelling and factfinding and -learning. So, logically there is nothing wrong with this evolution of how information is being delivered. And I am by no means a ludite, as my blog proves.

But for me books have a charm that no technological invention will ever be able to provide.

The feel of the paper, pages turning, the sweet smell of the printed texture, the quiet atmosphere as I delve into the written word and the complete surrender to the world of the story as it unfolds before my eyes and in my mind.

I am at peace.

There is no humming from electrical equipment, no distraction of my attention wondering if there is a mail on the way or an sms etc., no lighted background interrupting my melatonin-production and no wifi messing with my natural brainwaves.

In short to me books represent a sweet calmness where I can immerse myself  in a parallel timeline cocreated by the author and myself, completely unique and blissfully void of any interference.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Finetuning.....

I frequently rearrange my furniture, usually when I feel its time to dust of behind my books it seems like the perfect time. I love the newness of this, looking at everything from a new angle. It's refreshing and puts everything in a new light.

I do this too with my priorities in life.
I find that sticking with the same ideas year in and year out stifles my inspiration and motivation. I take a look at where I am at and then I check with my personal, and spiritual developement and do a bit of rearranging.

It feels like the right thing for me to reevaluate from time to time and, just like with my furniture, get a fresh look at things. During this kind of process I am sometimes amazed at discovering new and exciting ways to combine ideas and perceptions. By creating new connections in my way of seeing my life and myself I finetune old ideas and see new ones arise.

It even acts as a wonderfull way of solving problems and finding solutions and shortcuts through life's many opportunities that I have somehow stored away with the intent to be processed at a later date.

Sometimes life just needs to be looked at from a different angle in order to come together beautifully.

And sometimes I just need to move stuff around in order to find what I am looking for - right here in front of me.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Merging website with blog


I decided to merge my homepage with my blog. Hence the new earlier posts (I noted the original date of publishing from my website).

It is so much easier to work with and then I can integrate my literary interests, the movies I watch with the journalistic explorations. I went to a blog "read 52 books in 52 weeks" and it all seems to fit so beautifully.

I will be finetuning links, labels and pictures as I go along, but my next mission for today is delve into a book, and maybe Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is just the thing today :-)